Circuit-specific coinfection of neurons in the rat central nervous system with two pseudorabies virus recombinants

Jin Sang Kim, Lynn W. Enquist, J. Patrick Card

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Neurotropic alphaherpesviruses have become popular tools for transynaptic analysis of neural circuitry. It has also been demonstrated that coinfection with two viruses expressing unique reporters can be used to define more complicated circuitry. However, the coinfection studies reported to date have employed nonisogenic strains that differ in their invasive properties. In the present investigation we used two antigenically distinct recombinants of the swine pathogen pseudorabies virus (PRV) in single and double infections of the rat central nervous system. Both viruses are derivatives of PRV-Bartha, a strain with reduced virulence that is widely used for circuit analysis. PRV-BaBlu expresses β-galactosidase, and PRV-D expresses the PRV membrane protein gI, the gene for which is deleted in PRV- BaBlu. Antibodies to β-galactosidase identify neurons infected with PRV- BaBlu, and antibodies monospecific for PRV gI identify neurons infected with PRV-D. The ability of these strains to establish coinfections in neurons was evaluated in visual and autonomic circuitry in which the parental virus has previously been characterized. The following conclusions can be drawn from these experiments. First, PRV-D is significantly more neuroinvasive than PRV- Bartha or PRV-BaBlu in the same circuitry. Second, PRV-D is more virulent than either PRV-Bartha or PRV-BaBlu, and PRV-BaBlu is less virulent than PRV- Bartha. Third, in every model examined, PRV-D and PRV-BaBlu coinfect some neurons, but single infections predominate. Fourth, prior infection with one virus renders neurons less permissive to infection by another virus. Fifth, prior infection by PRV-D is more effective than PRV-BaBlu in reducing invasion and spread of the second virus. Collectively, the data define important variables that must be considered in coinfection experiments and suggest that the most successful application of this approach would be accomplished by using isogenic strains of virus with equivalent virulence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9521-9531
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Insect Science
  • Virology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology


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